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About volcanohunter

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  • Connection to/interest in ballet** (Please describe. Examples: fan, teacher, dancer, writer, avid balletgoer)
    fan, former dancer, self-loathing (ex-)New Yorker
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  1. volcanohunter

    Tribute to Jerome Robbins

    The geo-block can be circumvented with a VPN. I watched part of the performance live, but missed Fancy Free. When I went back to watch it the following day, I had a terrible time with the stream. It sputtered constantly, and part way through the second sailor's solo it refused to go any further. This was a real shame, as I was looking forward to Bullion in the third solo, since his characterization struck me as particularly interesting.
  2. I'm not sure why this would have to be the case. For a while the National Ballet of Ukraine performed Makarova's version (although no longer) and did it with 32 shades, and while I'm unsure about the entire betrothal scene, I'm fairly certain that the drum dance was included. It's beyond me why ABT's manpower limitations ca. 1980 should be extended to companies that don't share them.
  3. volcanohunter

    Balanchine's Don Quixote: Worth a Revival?

    In the way that La Dame aux camélias is bizarre? Dumas fils didn't recreate his relationship with Marie Duplessis completely acurately, and I'm sure that Balanchine didn't either in Don Quixote, but it's not uncommon for artists to create semi-autobiographical works. Dante is said to have met Beatrice Portinari only twice, but she looms large over his works. Balanchine knew Farrell well and worked with her a great deal, which already makes their relationship and artistic collaboration at lot less unusual.
  4. volcanohunter

    2018/2019 Royal Ballet cinema in USA?

    U.S. screenings of the Royal Ballet are few and far between, so it would be a fool's errand to try to appeal to American audiences. I am very pleased that the broadcast is going to bona fide Royal Ballet dancers.
  5. volcanohunter

    What is "Musicality" in a Dancer?

    I am extremely sympathetic to your position, balletforme. I often wonder how "playing with the beat," namely, not sticking to it, became the sine qua non of ballet musicality. A few years ago a New York City Ballet dancer posted videos of some the company's male dancers dancing Balanchine's Dewdrop in rehearsal. At one point Amar Ramasar held on to a balance for a very long time and then raced to finish the phrase. This parody brought roars of laughter from the dancers present and illustrated for me why this practice, now quite common, comes perilously close to being a mannerism rather than a legitimate form of musicality. I do admire the underlying skill. On occasion, when confronted with a conductor who was racing through the music, I marveled at how some singers or dancers veered off the beat to fit in everything they had to do, made it work and still finished on time, but these adaptations were necessitated by difficult circumstances. Often in these discussions one person will write, "X is unmusical," and another person will respond, "you don't understand, what X is doing it so much more sophisticated than dancing on the beat." But when I look at the videos in question, a perilous enterprise in itself, I often see dancers deviating from the established rhythm for purely technical reasons: because they couldn't hold a position for the required length or turned too slowly, so they were forced to make adjustments. In the case of someone with truly mind-boggling technical abilities such as Tiler Peck, I can see clearly that her "playing with the beat" is a deliberate choice. For mere mortals it's more likely to be an unintended necessity. This is hardly a mortal sin. Dancers are not machines, and their balance is not perfect at every moment. But I would be very wary of confusing technical glitches for preternatural musical insight. For my money, there is too much "playing around" with music in ballet today, and I find it gimmicky and tiresome, whereas being fully in sync with music and "illustrating" it, as you say, never grow old.
  6. volcanohunter

    Balanchine's Don Quixote: Worth a Revival?

    Presumably the sets and costumes made for the National Ballet of Canada production still exist, so that work wouldn't necessarily have to be done from scratch, and the NBoC rents out its productions quite readily. Presumably video recordings of that production were also made. Obviously, not all of the original interpreters participated in the rehearsal process, but the dancers were coached thoroughly by Farrell.
  7. The Bolshoi's sylphs do not sound like thistledown. I agree with you about Kaptsova. Her arms are very Bolshoi, and there is a lot of flapping, so she would need that intensive in Copenhagen, but as a dramatic characterization and performance, she is pure magic in the role.
  8. La Sylphide is generally a bad choice for Russian companies because the dancers nearly always have a complete misunderstanding of Bournonville port de bras. Instead of rounded arms and his lovely "curly" lines, you get a lot of locked elbows, broken wrists and spiky hands. Russian ballerinas dancing the Sylph also tend to flap their arms around altogether too much, with a strong downward stress on the downbeat, emphasizing the landings of jumps rather than disguising them. I like Stashkevich a lot, but as far as arm flapping goes, she is among the company's worst offenders. She also lacks the strength to perform temps levés on one leg repeatedly, especially evident in the Sylph's opening scene. I have seen a number of the company's Jameses and can honestly say that Chudin was the weakest among them. One of my objections to his dancing is how much he relies on his arms to jump. When Bournonville requires him to keep his upper body still while jumping, it becomes obvious that Chudin cannot. His mime is poor, because he is a weak actor, but also because he is unmusical. Including Mkrtchyan in this cast is a catastrophic mistake. I've seen this combination of dancers, and Mkrtchyan's Gurn ran circles around Chudin in acting, personality, looks and charm. It may be a better outcome for Effie, but it's very bad for the dramatic integrity of the ballet. I have no objections to Balukova's Madge, but Kristina Karasyova would have been more fun. Her Madge is like a party girl gone way over to the dark side. Perhaps she's not terribly frightening, but she is extremely entertaining. I can't say I'm surprised by the casting. I was very disappointed by the casting for all of the Bolshoi's broadcasts last season, and I have no reason to expect this season will be an improvement. Still, I was hoping against hope for something better.
  9. volcanohunter

    Balanchine's Don Quixote: Worth a Revival?

    Obviously it didn't stick on that occasion either. No doubt the company thought the attempt was worth making, not least because it would attract the interest of major dance writers, and ADs always seem to be looking for narrative ballets. But since the piece fell out of the repertoire once again, this probably has little to do with the fact that the National Ballet of Canada is not New York City Ballet. A bigger problem would be that no one could possibly replicate Farrell's performance. Ultimately the ballet itself and the music are probably to blame.
  10. volcanohunter

    What is "Musicality" in a Dancer?

    naomikage circulated this video today, and I couldn't resist. Or alternately:
  11. volcanohunter

    Nina Kaptsova

    Obraztsova hasn't danced La Bayadere since Vaziev became director, and I don't think she's likely to dance it as long as he's director. She dances comparatively infrequently, but it was the same under Filin. It's a mystery to me why he invited her to join the Bolshoi and then rarely put her on stage. I saw her recently in Etudes and Giselle, and I'll try to write about it on a separate thread. She was lovely but overshadowed by her partners (Vyacheslav Lopatin in Etudes, Ruslan Skvortsov in Giselle), who also seemed to be more popular with the audience. I also saw her in Onegin during the previous run. She dances it regularly, but I don't think Tatiana is her best role: too pretty, too posed.
  12. volcanohunter

    Nina Kaptsova

    But to address the main topic of this thread, among the ballerinas currently working at the Bolshoi, Kaptsova is the one I admire and enjoy most. In the season immediately prior to her "demotion," she was among the company's most active ballerinas, appearing about as frequently as Smirnova, Stashkevich and Stepanova. Sadly, her workload has been reduced sharply since, and it's been several years since she has been cast in some of the roles to which she is best suited: Giselle, Aurora and, most inexplicably, Tatiana. However, this year I have seen her as Princess Mary, the Sylph, Grigorovich's Juliet and in "Rubies," Kaptsova, like Stashkevich, is extraordinary as Princess Mary. Those who have seen only Zakharova on film probably don't even imagine how much they are missing. Kaptsova's Mary has bite, she has personality flaws, her infatuation with Pechorin is heady and intense, so you know she will come crashing down very hard. These days Mary's final solo is probably as close as Kaptsova gets to Giselle's mad scene, and she invests it with just as much dramatic intensity. Like nearly all of the Bolshoi's women, excepting perhaps Anastasia Goryacheva, Kaptsova has nothing approaching authentic Bournonville style, but she certainly has lightness, and her performance is remarkable from a dramatic point of view, so fully and enchantingly does she live her character on stage. The way she releases the captured butterfly is theatrical magic like I have seldom seen. I found myself wondering whether my eyes had played tricks on me. On Tuesday Kaptsova marked her 40th birthday by performing "Rubies." I saw her performance in the spring. The Bolshoi's "Rubies" are more Sochi than Manhattan; the resemblance to how the company dances The Golden Age is unmistakable. But Kaptsova was thoroughly delightful regardless: completely charming and very fleet.
  13. volcanohunter

    Nina Kaptsova

    It should be abundantly clear that the Bolshoi is not the Paris Opera, because "rules" are not applied equitably at the former. Kaptsova, class of 1996, was shunted to the "under contract" category last season. First soloist Andrei Bolotin, class of 1996, was moved to that category at the beginning of this season. Soloist Svetlana Pavlova, also class of 1996, continues full time as before. Bolshoi dancers may begin collecting their pensions at 38, but it's not a mandatory retirement age. There are a number of 20+ year veterans on the full-time roster. No one is going to send Zakharova into retirement. Not unless that AD wants to commit career suicide. She has friends in very high places. It would take regime change to force her out.
  14. volcanohunter

    promotions 2018

    These are my reservations about Pereira as well. It's not a problem of technique or projection, but coordination. Unfortunately, I don't get a sense that her arms and legs are connected to her center.
  15. volcanohunter

    Job posting for artistic director

    A few years ago senior SAB students performed a bit of classic Balanchine on network TV, and I remember thinking the performance was highly exaggerated. It seemed to me what would have been deemed unacceptable mannerism a few generations ago was now being taught as Balanchine style. Possibly this gets toned down once the students begin dancing in the company and discover their own sense of the style, but on the basis of that clip, I would also like to know exactly how Balanchine classes have changed, because I suspect Clifford has a point. Perhaps not, but eons ago, when Nina Ananiashvili and Andris Liepa came to NYCB to dance Theme & Variations (if I recall correctly) I read an interview in which Ananiashvili stated that they found the speed at which they were expected to dance overwhelming, and that their training had not prepared them for it. That would be an acknowledgment that the system has at least some gaps. (But of course, Ananiashvili isn't Russian. ) Just over a week ago Nina Kaptsova (happy 40th birthday!) performed Tarantella at a gala in Moscow, and no doubt she danced it just as Clifford had taught it to her back in 2004, even if the process had been difficult.